When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot targeted Arab businesses in 2021 and 2022
Looking back at why Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s racism against Arab American business owners disqualifies her from running for re-election and why Arab American voters should support other candidates running for mayor like Dr. Willie Wilson, Paul Vallas, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Roderick Sawyer, Ja’Mal Green or Kam Buckner among a few that have outreached to Arab Americans for support. Several Arab American activists, who benefit from Mayor Lightfoot’s administration, have launched a campaign to counter the facts and excuse Lightfoot’s racism. Arab Americans should vote against Lightfoot and not allow her to get away with her discriminatory policies
By Ray Hanania
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a history of discriminating against Arab Americans and now that she is running for re-election, she has co-opted several Arab activists who seek to sell themselves out for power in an effort to get the Arab American community in Chicago to forget about what she did.
This week, Mayor Lightfoot began a campaign to recruit Arab Americans to support her re-election.
It’s amazing that she would do this considering that she has been the second most anti-Arab mayor Chicago has ever had since the racist administration of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
When Emanuel was first elected mayor, one of his first actions was to end the annual Arab Festival called “Arabesque.” He then excluded Arab Americans from his outreach to the Muslim community, and he reorganized the Chicago Human Relations Council to terminate the Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs.
Lightfoot, in running for mayor, promoted herself as someone who would be most sensitive to diversity and inclusion, and outreached to some Arab Americans to support her candidacy for mayor after Emanuel retired from office in 2019. Lightfoot noted that she was a Lesbian, African American, a woman, and sympathized with the challenges facing other minorities.
But less than two years into her administration, Lightfoot decided to use Arab Americans as scapegoats to deflect from her failure to confront rising gun and street gang violence. Lightfoot shut down more than 50 Arab American owned gas stations, most of which operated on a 24-hour basis in Chicago’s central minority region, and implied that by shutting the 24-hour stores (almost everyone was Arab and there were a few Pakistani owned stores) that this would help curb the violence.
Her theory was basically that when gang bangers committed crimes, they often fled to the late night opened gas stations and stores, owned by Arabs, and pretended to be out on the street merely to buy food or get gasoline. It was estimated that only about 35 percent of the targeted stores had witnessed street gang violence on their properties (such as on parking lots or on the sidewalks adjacent to their properties). While the remainder happened to see violence occur nearby.
Ironically, and in an act of racism, when violence occurred near a store, Lightfoot’s Police/Building Department Task Force only closed Arab-owned stores but never closed stores owned by African Americans, the LGBTQ community, Asians or Hispanics. Those stores remained open but Arab stores were closed, many for as long as two and three months.
Southwest News Newspaper Group Opinion: Attack Crime not Arabs Madam Mayor Click here to read columnSuburban Chicagoland Op-Ed column Sept. 22, 2021 Click to read the column
Chicago Sun-Times Story Sept. 13, 2021 Click to read story
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. A political analyst and CEO of Urban Strategies Group, Hanania’s opinion columns on mainstream issues are published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers. His Middle East columns are published in the Arab News. For more information on Ray Hanania visit www.Hanania.com or email him at email@example.com.)
PS … Follow Ray Hanania on Twitter at Twitter.com/rayhanania. Fight back against #SocialMediaBigBrother
- Emgage hires former Illinois Congressional aid to help expand their reach - February 8, 2023
- Israeli-push behind effort to ban Tiktok in the United States - January 19, 2023
- Arab Democrats host forum for Chicago and suburban candidates Feb. 12 - January 18, 2023